Say a sovereign application has detected that a user has multiple monitors.

If the user initiates the creation of an additional window -- a window that needs to be large -- what are the advantages and disadvantages to creating the new window maximized on a different monitor than the initiating window?

An obvious benefit is that the content of both windows continues to be visible.

Are there concerns about whether the user notices the new window appearing in her peripheral vision?

Do platform-specific UI style guides recommend for or against this? Are there platform-specific concerns, such as the behavior on Mac with multiple desktops on multiple monitors?

  • 1
    This seems totally situation-dependent. Would the user want this behavior for some reason? Like I would absolutely not want an email program to open a full screen email window on my second monitor, that would be insane. But if I am doing something like VJing, it might make sense for a video preview screen (or something) to open on a second monitor so I can keep my control screen free, right?
    – tobybot
    Apr 16, 2018 at 17:32
  • Do you know that the 2nd monitor is going to be switched on?
    – Jonta
    Apr 16, 2018 at 18:34
  • @tobybot - Right, it might be useful if you'll be working back and forth between both windows. The example I saw years ago was similar - an IDE that launched the application onto a second monitor, so you could control debugging on the first. Email, for many of us, is more transient, and we can frequently be focused on one email at a time. Apr 16, 2018 at 21:19
  • @Jonta - Good question. I don't happen to know whether the API I'd be using reports monitors that are turned off. For the purposes of this question, let's presume it does not report monitors unless they're turned on. Apr 16, 2018 at 21:20

1 Answer 1


The key word here is automatically which should raise up a red flag. If you're doing something on behalf of the user, it should be something they would always want done the same way every time.

The fact that you're asking this question means that you should be asking the user this question as well. Create a setting or option so the user decides when something takes over another screen. Give them control.

  • 1
    Agreed. "Automatically" says "the system is in control", a user setting says "the user is in control".
    – Benjamin S
    Apr 19, 2018 at 21:41

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